Halfway through her morning commute along I-35 in Fort Worth Thursday, Danielle White said there had been no signs of slick roads. Until in a split second, there were, and it was too late to stop.
"As I'm coming down the freeway, I see an 18-wheeler just across the freeway. And so I put on my brakes and nothing happened. I just braced. I knew I was going to hit it,” said White.
Between the smell of her airbags deploying and leaking diesel, White said her immediate reaction was to get away from the crash.
But within seconds of opening her door, it was smashed shut.
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“At that point, I was pinned in my car, and cars kept on hitting me from all angles,” said White.
Her white SUV wound up sandwiched in on all sides, resting just feet from a FedEx truck that plowed into several other cars.
She said with both her arm and foot were caught in the door, she experienced the worst pain she’d ever felt.
"I was just trying to tell myself, ‘As a nurse, you know what to do. You're ok. You don't have any vital injuries. You're going to survive this, and you're going to get out.’ And that's when I was just screaming for help for someone to come save me,” said White.
After about 15 minutes, she said firefighters were there using a crowbar to pry her free.
"Even though I had to crawl under other 18-wheelers to get out, I didn't know in my mind that it was as big as it was until afterwards,” said White.
White initially told family on the phone that she thought she’d collided with about 10 cars.
She wouldn’t learn until talking with EMTs in an ambulance transporting multiple patients from the scene that the number was more than 100.
Looking back, she said it’s still hard to process that rather than a television medical drama, she’d been part of a real-life tragedy she was lucky to survive.
“It makes me really upset for the people who did lose their lives there yesterday. But with how it was and how it felt to be there, I felt really grateful that 120-something of us walked away from it,” said White.
In addition to first responders, White said she was grateful for a fellow driver who pulled her into his truck to keep her warm before getting in an ambulance.
Though she’s sore, her injuries are minor.